Leaving justice up to Herald Sun readers you’ve deliberately misinformed

Just when you thought Robert Clark’s ham-fisted mashing about all over the criminal justice system couldn’t get any more destructive, comes this morning’s Herald Sun front page. If you had any doubt at which cynically and deliberately misinformed target audience the “conservatives” are aiming their abysmal campaign:

Victorians asked to pass their own sentence on crime

People will be asked to pass their own sentence on violent thugs, murderers, rapists and vandals by the Baillieu Government.

If that sounds like an excellent idea – and there’s nothing wrong with comparing judicial attitudes to sentencing with those of the general public to determine if they’re compatible – that’s because you’re picturing something like the Sentencing Council’s previous efforts to determine what Victorians think about sentencing – those were about informing people of all the relevant information about a case, and then, armed with that information, determining what sentences they thought were appropriate. And they found that the general public is, if anything, actually less punitive than the real judges.

If they have all the facts at their disposal.

So, naturally, the Herald Sun and the Liberal Party are going to make sure that that’s not what happens here:

Together with the Herald Sun, the Government will survey tens of thousands of Victorians about what they believe are appropriate punishments for violent attacks as it imposes minimum terms for serious crimes.

The public’s verdict will be used to help set the baseline jail terms judges will be expected to impose on criminals under the Government’s get-tough sentencing reforms.

Ah, so the public’s participation is premised on the idea that it’ll be “tougher”.

Before completing this survey, will the public be advised of just how expensive imprisonment is? Of reoffending rates from various sentencing options? Of the availability of mental health and drug counselling services? Of research on effective deterrence? Will they be given examples to highlight the different sort of behaviour, at widely-divergent ends of the spectrum, that can be captured by the same offences? Will they be asked to consider those sentencing options in relation to defendants with real and genuine problems, ranging from mental health issues to long-term drug addiction?

Or will they simply be asked to decide if really bad things should happen to really bad people?

Based on the Herald Sun‘s previous form – and Robert Clark’s, for that matter – I have a horrible feeling it won’t be the former.

And, when the budget blows out with spending on new prisons, and when crime rates skyrocket from the efforts of graduates of our new bluestone colleges, I suppose they’ll demand we get even “tougher”. It’s not working! We must do it more!

See, this is the thing. No matter how incompetent and annoying Labor gets, the Liberals always manage to make it worse.

PS: An easy indication of whether a policy is a good idea or not is whether that Noel McNamara crank is in favour of it. He loves Robert Clark’s idea:

Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara said the survey to be published in the Herald Sun in July would allow Victorians to have their voices heard.

“The community at large is outraged over the sentences that have been handed down from the bench over the last 12 years,” he told heraldsun.com.au this morning. “Criminals seem to have more rights than anyone else.”

“More rights than anyone else”? Like what?

Seriously, what?

I suppose, the more victims out there, the more point Mr McNamara’s association has for existing. No wonder he supports policies almost guaranteed to create more of them.

UPDATE: If you’re curious to try it yourself, and see how your views actually compare with real judges’, have a look at the Sentencing Advisory Council’s Virtual You Be The Judge.

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14 responses to “Leaving justice up to Herald Sun readers you’ve deliberately misinformed

  1. narcoticmusing

    As I mentioned in the other thread I get really frustrated by arbitrary criticism of sentences without consideration of the full set of facts and purpose of the law that the judges deal with (ie it is about the circumstances of both the crime and the ‘criminal’ not either or). This is no exception and if it is to be implemented as it sounds according to that link (hopefully not) then that will be utterly contemptable.

    As I’d said in the previous thread, SAC are genearlly pretty sensible bunch and their previous efforts have been very constructive. While I’m not convinced as to ‘minimum sentences’ I’d want to see a huge range of caveats/exceptions if they were to be implemented because not every criminal or crime is the same. The discretion awarded to judges is necessary for justice, not just something to piss off herald sun readers.

    Again it seems to be a knee jerk response to cases such as DPP v Karazisis and DPP v Aslan but as usual, without all the facts, just the crime and the end point sentence. I can think of many cases where I thought the sentences were inadequate (on either side – too high or too low) but found myself corrected when I read the judge’s rationale.

  2. narcoticmusing

    Btw Jeremy I think your criticism of the VCSA is not necessary; actual victims of crime* get stuff all in support and deserve advocacy. They might get sympathy in the media for 30seconds (or however long is required to sell a newspaper or two) but then they are again kicked to the curb. It is hard to be a victim of crime and have your rights violated in such a heinous way.

    *I mean both the direct victim and indirect, which includes the largely either ignored or demonised category of the family of the offender.

  3. “I can think of many cases where I thought the sentences were inadequate (on either side – too high or too low) but found myself corrected when I read the judge’s rationale.”

    Exactly. I suspect so many of these views about sentences being “light” would be changed if they actually read the decisions rather than the Hun’s misrepresentations.

    “Btw Jeremy I think your criticism of the VCSA is not necessary; actual victims of crime* get stuff all in support and deserve advocacy.”

    I don’t disagree with that. But the problem is that McNamara only ever seems to talk about increasing jail time for offenders, which doesn’t actually help victims of crime at all.

    If he does some advocacy about actually providing services for victims, then I’m yet to hear it. Perhaps he should try mentioning something along those lines next time the Hun comes calling.

  4. Nup, can’t see anything on CVSA website about better services to help victims of crime.

  5. narcoticmusing

    But the problem is that McNamara only ever seems to talk about increasing jail time for offenders, which doesn’t actually help victims of crime at all

    (Unfortunately) I wouldn’t disagree with that. :)

  6. jordanrastrick

    What does everyone think the reaction would be to a policy that channeled the savings (from reduced prison time due to preventative measures) directly into increased compensation and support services for victims?

  7. From me? Enthusiastic support. From Herald Sun readers? I suspect they’d be told it was being SOFT ON CRIME and the positive aspect for victims would be ignored or downplayed.

  8. narcoticmusing

    I don’t. That is the problem.

    We currently underfund real preventative services/measures (such as AOD programs) and underfund post-offence services (rehabilitation programs for offenders and compensation/support services for victims of crime).

    We also underfund prisons. Yes, they ARE underfunded. This is without expanding them or creating measures that send more people there.

    Nevertheless, funding for cops/prisons continues to increase at (comparitively) healthy rates while the measures that would have the most impact on crime rates (prevention, adequate rehabilitation and support for victims) is continuously neglected.

    These are all separate but linked issues (and very separate as far as Budgets are concerned as they are spread across different departments which makes them harder to get $ for) and I am far too cynical to think that funding or not funding one would mean that a more worthy one would suddenly get funding. I’ve often debated this sad reality with those who, commendable as it is, keep hoping Governments will see mechanisms that deliver effective outcomes rather than effective headlines as a rationale for funding. If only.

  9. Pingback: Robert Clark’s idiocy « 5 Star Laundry

  10. These are the kinds of posts in which you shine, AO Lefty.

  11. Isn’t Mr Clark already on record as saying that he’s sick of the debate being dominated by the experts?
    Attorney-General will smack!

    We also underfund prisons. Yes, they ARE underfunded. This is without expanding them or creating measures that send more people there.

    Depends how you define ‘underfunding prisons’. If you simply named a jail at random and used such words as ‘shoestring’, ‘unsustainable’ or ‘starved’ or ‘falling to bits’, I’d simply believe it.
    The prison INDUSTRY however, is running hotter than the housing bubble. Fuck derivatives – open a jail (upkeep’s optional – just open it).

  12. I gave the culpable driver 18 mo. imprisonment (actual sentence was 5 years), pseudoephedrine trafficker 1 year community supervision (6 mo.). The game then broke, but I would have given the perpetrator of the assault 2 years.

  13. narcoticmusing

    I ran through it with a friend – really educative as we either got the sentence spot on or were lighter. Particularly the driving charge, there was a sense of empathy because who hasn’t taken their eyes off the road for a sec to get your sunnies?

  14. Pingback: I’ll get an order out on you!1! | An Onymous Lefty

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